Lottery officials warn about scams targeting Pennsylvanians

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The Pennsylvania Lottery is warning residents about a new wave of scam phone calls, emails and social media messages from scam artists posing as “lottery claim agents.”

“If someone tells you, out of the blue, that you’ve won a major prize and must act immediately to claim it, you should be very suspicious,” said Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko. “The Pennsylvania Lottery will only contact you if you have won a second-chance drawing or giveaway into which you submitted an entry.”

Warning signs of a scam include someone asking you to provide or “confirm” personal information or bank account numbers, demanding prepayment of a “processing” or “claiming” fee, or requiring the purchase of a pre-paid debit card.

Scam operators will falsely claim to represent a lottery or multi-state lottery group, sometimes posing as real employees whose names can be found through the Internet. Scammers will sometimes offer a “badge number” or other made-up information to try to sound legitimate.

Many scam operators are located offshore, making it difficult for U.S. law enforcement to take action against them. To mask their true location, scammers will often establish fake websites and telephone switchboards, or create a “spoofed” phone number which makes it appear on caller ID that the call is coming from a real entity or known area code.

“Technology can make it easy for anyone to pose as anyone else on the Internet or over the phone,” Svitko added. “It’s always wise to approach any kind of unexpected news of this sort with a healthy amount of skepticism – and when in doubt, check it out.”

The Pennsylvania Lottery’s website, www.palottery.com, offers a variety of Player Security tips that address how consumers can avoid falling prey to email, telephone and social media scams.